Case Studies · 5 minute read

McMaster Engineering enrolls stronger cohorts with custom assessments delivered at scale

McMaster’s Undergraduate Engineering programs needed a way to holistically assess thousands of top applicants without overwhelming their review team. Kira Talent and Reviewer Services are helping them identify key success factors in their admissions process.


Needing to distinguish amongst thousands of academically strong applicants but not having the resources to conduct and review thousands of interviews.

Key outcomes

Conducted a holistic review of 13,000 applicants in less than 5 weeks, enrolling stronger cohorts that thrive in their programs.

Favourite features

McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering undergraduate programs consistently rank among the top engineering programs in the country. The school’s unique approach to engineering design, which emphasizes hands-on, project-based and experiential learning, allows undergraduate students to work with real clients to develop solutions to real-world problems. 

Each year, the Faculty of Engineering receives more than 16,000 applications, with 13,000 unique applicants meeting the academic requirements for a spot in one of their four direct-entry undergraduate programs.

“We want to admit the students who are most likely to succeed in the program and beyond — those who will use their engineering degree to make a difference in the world,” shared Sarah Dickson-Anderson, Associate Dean Undergraduate at McMaster's Faculty of Engineering. “We’re looking for the students who are not only strong academically, but who have key traits and skills such as drive, leadership, resiliency, and an eye for innovation.”

Since 2016, McMaster's Faculty of Engineering has been using an Asynchronous Assessment in Kira Talent to help them efficiently identify those traits in their applicants.

Identifying more best-fit applicants through holistic review

“Before we added the Kira assessment, we were making our admissions decisions based primarily on grades," she continued. "However, so many of our applicants had 90% and above grade averages, making it very difficult to differentiate between them.” 

“There’s a lot of insight we gain from our Kira assessment that you just can’t get from a transcript,” she continued. “We can see how an applicant approaches and thinks through a question, how articulate they are in their answers, and how engaged they are in the process."

"With Kira, we’re making admissions decisions based on a more comprehensive and holistic view of our applicants.” 

Working with the team at Kira, McMaster Faculty of Engineering customized their assessment to evaluate for the traits and skills that they identified as being most predictive of student success in their programs.

After applying at the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) online portal, Faculty of Engineering applicants receive an invitation from Kira Talent to complete a written and video assessment.

“Once we have the student’s transcript and completed Kira score, we can assess them for admission into our program," shared Dickson-Anderson. "It’s important to us that we consider both components together, as we believe in looking holistically at each applicant.”

“Being able to tailor the competencies to our programs’ specific needs allows us to get the most value out of the assessment.”

Applicant results delivered on your timeline

The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of Kira’s Reviewer Services. Seamlessly integrated with the Asynchronous Assessment, Kira gives admissions teams the ability to tap into a team of over 30,000 trained reviewers to score applicants’ assessments. 

“We had 13,000 applicants complete a Kira assessment this year, each of whom needed to be reviewed by at least two reviewers,” shared Dickson-Anderson. “We just don’t have enough reviewers in-house to score that many assessments, and beyond that, we don’t have the capacity to train them properly in order to ensure that they are scoring applicants correctly and objectively.”

“We knew we needed to bring another component into our admissions process and Kira's Reviewer Services gave us a way to do that without completely overwhelming our staff and faculty,” she added.

Learn how Roseman University is saving over 800 hours per cycle with Reviewer Services

Once an applicant completes their assessment, the Kira platform automatically assigns a designated number of reviewers to watch and score their responses within the school’s specified timeline.

“Our deadline to apply is in January and Kira has all of the assessment scores back to us by the end of February so we can administer first-round offers in March,” explained Dickson-Anderson. 

“That’s a five-week timeline to score 13,000 assessments.”

“Every single one of our reviews gets completed in that short period of time, enabling us to get offers out to our applicants earlier,” she added.

Better predicting student success

“We’ve had the Kira assessment in our admissions process for several years now and we’ve seen a number of really great outcomes,” shared Dickson-Anderson. “We’re enrolling really strong students who are doing extremely well in our programs. It’s not only something that we’ve heard from our professors but it shows in our very low attrition rate. That speaks to the fact that Kira is helping us admit applicants who will succeed in our programs."

“With Kira, we’re able to run our admissions process smoothly and with minimal stress. An incredible amount of work goes into attaining the level of detail we need to identify and admit our best-fit applicants, and Kira takes that all on for us.” 

“Kira is a trusted partner in our admissions process,” she continued. “We need to be able to rely on our admissions partners to help us support our applicants throughout this journey. By having Kira in our admissions process, we’ve been able to increase the level of transparency and communication between our centralized colleagues in the admissions department and our Faculty of Engineering.”

A process customized to your needs

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from our faculty on the admissions process with Kira, and we’re hearing from other faculties across the university as well,” shared Dickson-Anderson. “Seeing how it’s enhanced our admissions process, they’re understanding what a Kira assessment could do for their programs.”

Applicant insights delivered

Get applicant insights delivered by a team of professional raters on your timeline with Reviewer Services in Kira Talent.

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